Job 8:11, 12
Can the rush grow up without mire? can the flag grow without water?
From history Bildad turns to nature, or rather to a traditional saying about nature - to an old proverb; possibly it has been suggested from Egyptian lore.
I. THE PLANTS SPRING FROM WATER. Both of these plants grow in marshes or pools, and by the banks of rivers and canals. They both need an abundance of water. man can only live when nourished by the goodness of God. The Christian can only grow to maturity when planted by the unfailing streams of the river of life.
II. THE PLANTS FLOURISH LUXURIANTLY. This is one of the characteristics of succulent plants in moist soil. They grow rapidly and flourish greatly. So, as the goodness of God is no mere sprinkling of refreshment, but a great river with abundance of water, they who live upon it will not be in a meagre and stunted state, but will make great progress and will grow in grace.
III. THE FLOURISHING CONDITION OF THE PLANTS IS PROOF OF THE PRESENCE OF NOURISHING STREAMS. They may be so abundant and so rank in their growth as to hide the water from which they spring; but their very splendour of health and development is a certain sign that they are surrounded by plenteous streams. We know that their roots must be in the water because their stems and upper growth are so green and vigorous. So the existence of prosperity is a sign of Divine goodness. We cannot go so far as Bildad, and take it as a proof of God's approval, for God is gracious to bad men; but it is a proof of God's kindness. The spiritual flourishing of Christian people is a certain sign that they are drinking of the living waters. They may be reserved, and may not reveal to us the springs from which they draw, hiding the roots of their spiritual life. Still by their fruits shall we know them, and learn that they must be in vital relations with the Divine source of all spiritual experience.
IV. THE PLANTS FLOURISH FOR USEFUL END. The reed referred to by Bildad is an edible plant; and the papyrus is the material from which paper was anciently made. The prosperity which God gives to man is a talent to be used in the service of life. Spiritual growth should lead to spiritual productiveness. We receive grace from God in order that we may minister to the work of God.
V. WHEN THE WATER DRIES UP THE PLANTS WITHER. These plants are not like the thorns of the desert, which can endure a terrible drought without suffering seriously. They are distinctly denizens of watery places, and without water they must perish. Man's prosperity must cease when God ceases to bless him. He may ignore the Divine source of his good things, but he must fail if that source is stopped. The Christian more especially will suffer in his better life if he is deprived of the streams of grace. He is like the tree planted by the rivers of water. He in particular needs streams of grace if he is to flourish. He cannot thrive on his own goodly proportions. The most advanced Christian must go back and even utterly perish if he loses the constant supply of grace. We must be in Christ to live the Christian life. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: Can the rush grow up without mire? can the flag grow without water?